A GROUP of Widnes teenagers were given the chance to help shape the development of a new nature reserve near the town's waterfront.
A specially created panel of young people, aged 12-14, spent a weekend touring Widnes Warth, and discussing how it can best be developed as an important new amenity and asset for the town.
Mersey Waterfront, the programme set up to regenerate 135km of the Merseyside and Cheshire coastline, has pioneered the involvement of People's Panels in the development of the region's riverside areas.
Mersey Waterfront connects the waterfront's communities and assets across the districts of Sefton, Wirral, Liverpool and Halton, and aims to create an internationally acclaimed waterfront to compete with cities like Sydney and Toronto. Mersey Waterfront is funded through the Northwest Regional
Development Agency, and hosted by The Mersey Partnership - a unique alliance representing more than 400 organisations across the Liverpool City Region
The idea of people's panels comes from the International Citizens' Jury where small groups of people make recommendations about the changes they would like to see locally. Groups are given training and encouraged to come up with ideas on wide-ranging categories like public facilities, crime, transport and natural heritage.
Groundwork Mersey Valley will run Saturday's event with support from Mersey Waterfront and Halton Borough Council.
Louise Hopkins, director of Mersey Waterfront, said: 'People's Panels give local people the chance to influence the regeneration of their local waterfront. It makes perfect sense for the communities who live near the waterfront to have the opportunity to have a say on the future development of their local area.'
Cath Sheil, Groundwork Mersey Valley community officer, added: 'It's great to have the important views of the next generation of citizens for the future of Widnes'
Cllr Phil Harris, Halton Borough Council's executive board member for environment, said: 'People's Panels provide the perfect opportunity for young people and others to have a say.
'The views of local people are essential to what is, after all, a project for the community to enjoy.'